Sai sets timetable for Rs 300-cr in 2015

Sai has notched a series of firsts. India’s first Epson SurePress L-4033AW plus ; Gallus granite label press and the first firm in South India to implement Ugra

23 Apr 2013 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Colour is absolutely critical, but even the premium-quality players don’t push the envelope as much as they should. Gone are the days, when product managers and agencies were happy to visit for press checks.

It was to address the colour issue that Sai Packaging hosted a colour conference on 8 March in Bengaluru. Arvind Shekhar, director (South) at Sai welcomed the more than 120 strong audience which comprised, brand managers, designers and key clients from all over India.

He welcomed the gathering to “this unique event – not just in our company’s history – but in the packaging industry as well. Today, we have tried to bring together a group which in many cases face one common challenge – brand colour reproduction across media.”

Later through three  presentations by Satish Nayak of Bodhi, Nitin Apte from Alia and SM Ramprasad from Epson highlighted how advanced colour management has taken the guesswork out of producing accurate files, and the manner in which clients are becoming comfortable with how their printers print.

Sai has invested in its pre-press system in a drive to achieve standardisation on proofing, viewing, platemaking and production via the ISO 12647-2 UGRA colour certification. As Arvind stated, “When we have ISO 9001 and other certifications for our processes, how come there is nothing for the most critical aspect of our product – colour?”

Arvind said, “It turned out that there is an International Standard – UGRA – Swiss Center for Competency in Printing and Media. Under the guidance of Satish Nayak – we cleared this certification in our third attempt. It helped us move our thinking of printing from an art to a science. It was expensive, difficult, but enjoyable.”

He concluded, “We went on this path because we are committed to achieving European level of quality with Indian competitiveness.”

Other than the colour seminar, Sai Packaging revealed a timetable of how to notch a Rs 300-cr turnover by 2015.

Vijay Raghavan, the chairman and managing director of the group while speaking spoke to PrintWeek India, says, “Sai is building a leader in packaging, with a strong organisation, work culture and work systems, that is sought out by customers and all other stakeholders. In size, it means growing to Rs 300-cr by FY15, by growing inorganically as well.” 

The ambitious plan is: to be multi-locational and multi-product. Sai has a 1,25,000sq/ft plant in Faridabad which will double its capacity by adding two new lines for carton printing in May of 2013. There is an addition of 100% label inspections systems, special finishing systems, three label lines which will enhance the capacity by 50%. 

Plus there is a blue-print for a new plant on a six acre plant in the outskirts of Bengaluru. This means, Sai will shift operations from its current plant in Peenya Industrial Estate to the new location. 

Raghavan said, “This will perhaps be the biggest packaging plant in South India when it comes up in 2014.” 

In addition, Sai is readying for the mid April launch of a pharmaceutical label facility at an undisclosed SEZ. 

Two decades ago, Sai started operations as a security printing business. Since then, Sai has metamorphosed into a packaging firm, manufacturing labels and mono-cartons for food and beverage, pharmaceutical and the (FMCG) food and beverage, pharmaceutical and the Alcobev industries. Today, the company which has a staff strength of more than 600; is expected to notch Rs 1.1 billion worth of annual sales for the financial year 2013.

Recently, the company divested significant part of its holdings. The Aureos South Asia Fund (ASAF) completed a $7 million investment in Sai Security Printers. ASAF is managed by Aureos South Asia Managers Ltd, a subsidiary of Aureos Capital Limited, a private equity fund management company specialising in investing in small and medium sized businesses in emerging markets. 

Raghavan said the group was divesting because Sai needed a strategic partner to quickly scale up as per the demands of the market with the ability to invest in the business. He said, “We have grown Sai as an institution and these investments are a deep commitment to the institution.” 

He stated, “Sai will use the funds to build on its already strong production and technology capabilities and will work towards moving into new markets, adding new customers and providing end-to-end packaging and printing solutions to its customers.” 

Sai is planning to invest in people and offices all over India. Besides a raft of new presses, the group has set up support locations in Bengaluru, Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and is planning “a few more”. 

Sai Packaging was the first Indian company to have the Gallus ECS 340 flexographic printing press in 2010 which was installed in Bengaluru and since then it has added two ECS 340 presses, the latest being at its Faridabad unit.

“I see a lot of scope. We are investing in order to grow, which is what Sai needs. We are servicing our customers around the country, where they want our services,” Raghavan concluded.



Arvind Shekhar says selecting the SurePress was “easy”.  He says, “There was no PPT presentation from the Epson team”. When probed why he selected on the device during Drupa, he says, “There are five reasons: ability to print on white ink, no pre-treatment, ability to produce Pantone colour, our short-run jobs for the label segment and Satish Nayak’s guidance.”

“The requirement to move to digital was multiple – shorter runs, more variable label runs and also more complicated art work,” explains Shekhar. “Our flexo press can do a good job on these, but with the digital press, you get an entirely different – and better – job.”

Hence, walking around Labelexpo, Shekhar was running his eye over the myriad of digital options on offer. Size was a big concern as if the press was too big  it would have meant the removal of a flexo press and he was clear that digital would be a complement to flexo, not a replacement.  He was also concerned about the finish certain machines offered.

“EFI has a good label press that prints a good label but Sai did not want the UV surface texture; Xeikon also has a good machine, you have to UV varnish everything as you get that flat toner base surface; then another option was the HP Indigo, but that was really beyond what Sai needed at that time,” reveals Satish Nayak.

Perfect fit

Thankfully, Arvind Shekhar soon spotted the perfect fit for his company during Drupa. “When we saw the Epson SurePress, with the ability to print straight onto paper with no pre-treatment and its small footprint, we knew it was perfect. It was the best quality and the least hassle,” he explains.

The model Shekhar and Nayak had laid eyes on was the L-4033AW, was installed in end-December. The machine is a six-colour (cyan, magenta, yellow, black, orange and green), industrial-quality, water-based inkjet machine, and there is no pre-treatment or top coating required for substrates, meaning a variety of standard off-the-shelf substrates can be used at variable web widths up to 13in wide. The press measures a compact 3,722x1,451x1,878mm, with the rewinder adding just 1,310x900x1,000mm. Sai has added an auto-rewinder / slitter to complement the press.

Exceptional quality

Shekhar says, the machine has matched that performance since installation. He says the quality is exceptional and the versatility a real bonus. 

“The machine is superb – we can put a job on there and it can be done in 15 minutes, whereas in 15 minutes on a flexo press you have only just got the plates mounted,” he reveals. “In terms of quality, I think it beats the competitors. With rival machines, you get a fringe around your areas of half tone, but on this, you get sharp, crisp edges. We are also able to give faster turnaround and have not had to go back to ask anyone about a design, as we’ve been able to print even the most ambitious designs first time.”

But it may not be suitable for everyone – Shekhar concedes that the machine is slower than some rivals’. For him, though, this is not a concern.

“The print speed we have is slower, but we’re doing lots of small labels, so to go any faster would be paying for a speed we do not need,” he explains.

Shekhar is unwilling to comment about the ROI on the press. But he says, he is not worried. The Surepress meets Sai’s label needs in terms of speed and produces, in his view, the best quality on the market. For a first move into digital labelling, Shekhar and his team consider it to be a resounding success.